Leaving the Shire and Other Adventures

I’ve been procrastinating writing this for days, which is interesting because I’m excited to share about this photo which was 3 years (or even 31 years) in the making!  But it’s also hard, because it means I’m moving forward.  But it’s time to end this chapter.  When I heard The Hobbit was going to be made into a movie I had a crazy idea- to WAIT until the final film was in theaters and then watch each movie, one night after another.  This was CRAZY because I am a BIG LOTR fan!  I saw each one at the midnight premiere!!  I’ve sat through 2 LOTR marathons, 1 of those was EXTENDED VERSIONS at my own Dad’s 45th birthday party.  But I am ESPECIALLY a fan of The Hobbit.  I consider it “my book” for a couple reasons.  First, my Dad read the entire book while my mom was in labor with me.  Seriously!  Also, when I was older he read it aloud to me with incredible voices and energy.  And he described to me with a proud smile on his face, the Halloween costume he had as a 6th grader- Thorin Oakenshield, blue cloak and all.  The connection between us and this book even inspired the title of my published personal essay, “There And Back Again With Daddy.”  So it makes sense that I would want to be able to enjoy those movies in the most ideal way, one right after the other.  

Beyond all these reasons though, I think I was waiting because I didn’t want to start a journey I wouldn’t be able to finish with my Dad.  We had traveled through the Shire many times and I didn’t want to begin a journey when my father was still alive but have to finish it without him.

In fact, the night we finally watched the first film, one we waited 3 years to see, I was a horrible, cranky, mess.  I kept finding myself thinking “What would have Dad said at that moment?” or “Dad would have laughed at that part.”  It was like all the holidays I had experienced the past year without him were easy because I had celebrated each one without him at some point already in my life.  And the really important moments, like Sophia’s baptism, I knew he was with me then.  But this was the first time I was doing something simple, yet significant, that I felt he should be there for…and he wasn’t.  I didn’t blame him.  It was just hard.

Then I had that thought I’ve often leaned on for support “Daddy wouldn’t want you to feel that way.  He would want you to be happy.”  So I was able to take a deep breath, kind of relax, and start to enjoy the film.

The little details touched my heart as they reminded me of the sweet experiences of reading the book with my father.  Bilbo forgetting his handkerchief.  Longing for his Hobbit hole.  The songs of the dwarfs.  The presence of Beorn.  I could go on and on.  I had gone on that literary journey over 2 decades ago, and yet it was all fresh in the front of my mind and heart.

After 2 fun nights watching the first couple films at home, we headed to the movie theater for the final film.  I’ll admit I was holding back some tears as I walked up that ramp into the theater.  This was it, it was finally happening.  The last movie was here and my Dad wasn’t…  It was now my journey to take.  It was time for my own adventure.  I had my sweet husband there to travel it with me.  It was time.

In all honesty, of course the book was better than the movies!  But the films were still fun and I’m glad they were made.  It was quite the visual experience! But the best part might have been the end.  The song playing during the credits was called “The Last Goodbye.”  It was the end of an era of amazing cinematic adventures, and they definitely recognized that.  But it was also an end to a chapter in my own life.  Not that chapter where my Dad had died.  That was over.  I had been living with that for a year.  The end of the chapter of mourning and hanging on.

I had needed that time.  It was an important process of growth and self-discovery.  But now it was time to turn a new page.  It was time to move forward.  Here are those lyrics…

I saw the light fade from the sky
On the wind I heard a sigh
As the snowflakes cover my fallen brothers
I will say this last goodbye

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the Sea

Under cloud, beneath the stars
Over snow one winter’s morn
I turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell
Many places I have been
Many sorrows I have seen
But I don’t regret
Nor will I forget
All [who took the road with me]

Night is now falling
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the Sea

To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell

I bid you all a very fond farewell.

Growing up it was ALWAYS tradition for our family to sit in the movie theater until the credits were done (way before producers started putting fun, silly clips at the end.)  We sat through them mostly so Daddy could see where the movie was filmed.  For some reason he really liked knowing that, and there was no imdb.com back then.  In honor of tradition, I had planned on staying until the end of the credits.  Chad even expected it.  But after that beautiful song, things changed.  I realized I already knew where this movie was filmed and that really, I didn’t need to stay.  I’m my own person, and I can do things my own way.  It might seem like something small, but it really was a huge step to go to that movie, enjoy it (almost tear-free,) and then walk out of that theater with my husband before the credits were finished rolling.

I thought I had done it.  I was finally moving forward!  But in reality I was still a tad stuck, because I wasn’t ready to write about it.  In other words, I wasn’t ready to reflect, process, be completely done and move on.  Because then I would be moving on without him and I would have to figure out this next chapter in my life without him too.  And what would that be?  What would I do next?  For so long I’ve been dealing with his being sick, his demise, then his death.  That was a big part of my life, and perhaps even a crutch to keep me from moving forward on other things I’ve wanted to do in my life.  I was finally comfortable in this place of coping and enduring.  But now it was time for more than that.  It was time to go on a new adventure and leave my comfortable, figurative hobbit-hole.  It was time to embrace that fact that I didn’t have a handkerchief.  My Dad always had one in his pocket for me to borrow, but that was no longer a possibility.  It was time to face dragons and find gold.

I’m closing that book and leaving those great memories of Daddy to start a new adventure.   In this new book I don’t see him.  I feel him sometimes.  He communicates to me at times.  But for the most part, he is writing his own story somewhere else and I am writing my own here.  And I am going to “wear a sword instead of a walking stick!”

I started this post saying that picture took 3 years to happen because that’s how long we waited until all of the Hobbit movies were out for us to see consecutively.  But it took 31 years of experiences, love, and faith to finally HAPPILY see them and then move forward.   And I did it.  And I am moving forward, through leaps and bounds because J.R.R. Tolkein was right, “The road goes ever on and on.”  I am entering worlds I didn’t fully see before.  It will still be a journey, but it is worth every day’s efforts.

My new adventures include really living in the moment and enjoying the good times with my family.  My new adventures include laughing with my husband more, and at myself more too.  My new adventures include having greater faith and letting go and jumping out of my comfort zone- I will break the dishes and crack the plates!  My new adventures will be a myriad of house projects as we try to finish our renovations.  And I am eager and excited!  But don’t be surprised if you see my front door painted green.

Love,
Eva

P.S. “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” 
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit